A trademark of the Fédération des gestionnaires de rivières à saumon du Québec


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84, rue St-Germain Est, bureau 2080, Rimouski (Québec), G5L 1A6
418 722-3726
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Salmon fishing on the Koksoak river

The Koksoak fluvial complex receives its water from the Rivière aux Mélèzes and the Caniapiscau River. It is 874 kilometers long and drains a vast region of 155 400 km2 in Northern Quebec. The main branch runs in a North-North-West direction and is formed from the Caniapiscau River and its main affluent, the Swampy Bay River. Its most western branch is composed of the Rivière aux Mélèzes and its affluents that are the Gué River and the Delay River.
The Caniapiscau River and Rivière aux Mélèzes form the Koksoak River that runs along 145 kilometers toward the North between Kuujjuak and Ungava Bay. It is very likely that it’s name comes from an Inuit word meaning large river. The Koksoak River is over 1,600 meters wide at its mouth. The construction of a dam on the Caniapiscau River has tripled the size of the Caniapiscau Lake. The water is deviated toward the James Bay hydroelectric facility via the Grande River. The Caniapiscau River holds very few salmon because their access is limited to 27 kilometers upstream from its junction with the Rivière aux Mélèzes before reaching the impassable Calcaire Falls. The two rivers form the Koksoak River, a fjord of sixty some kilometers is influenced by the tide on half of its depth.
The Rivière aux Mélèzes is one of the main reproduction sites of the Ungava Bay. The average flow that has been recorded is 2,241 m3/s. This spectacular wartercourse is the most northern limit of the American continent for Atlantic salmon. The Koksoak River is not only the largest watercourse in all of Ungava, but it has a phenomenon unique to North America. The salmon arrive from the tributary to go upstream at the end of July at the earliest, barely a few days after the Ungava Bay ice has disappeared. The Rivière aux Mélèzes and its tributaries is composed of approximately 88% of areas favourable for spawning and for fry to grow. For example, on the River aux Mélèzes, the distance that separates the tributary from the reproduction areas is estimated at 480 kilometers.
In 1979 and 1980, after examining 3,200 salmon samples, a team of researchers confirmed the existence of atypical salmon. These atypical salmon end their vital cycle in the calibrated watershed of the Koksoak without returning to the sea, this is where the name estuary salmon derives. Salmon located in the basin de la Koksoak have particular characteristics: males do not spawn until fourteen months after their arrival in fresh water, however, they do feed during Spring and Summer even though spawning has not yet occurred. As for females, a large number of them have consecutive spawning periods without migrating between each period to the sea. They also feed in fresh water during the Spring and Summer seasons. Regarding the estuarians, they reproduce for three or four consecutive years, but this frequency could be higher because of the proximity of the reproduction sites. It is quite a world that has not ended upsetting the knowledge of this grand migrator.


  • The annual statistics are provided by the Government of Quebec.